Diagnosing car problems requires not only a vast mechanical knowledge, but also modern computer systems which can tell you what exactly is wrong with the vehicle. However, you don’t need to be a qualified technician to accurately pin point a few things wrong with your car. You just need some basic information on how the car works, sense of feel, hearing and even smell. And of course, we bring you a few simple warning signs that should raise some red flags if you encounter them.
1. Vibrations during braking
If you are experiencing strange vibrations from the steering wheel during braking, it is most likely to be your front brake discs and you should replace them as soon as possible. This happens when the discs are exposed to extreme heat (constant braking) or they have been badly installed. The surface of the disc is not perfectly flat and hence the brake pads vibrate during braking thereby transmitting the vibrations to the steering wheel. In some cases, when the discs are in really bad shape, the vibrations are sent to the brake pedal as well.
2. Unusual humming sound
When there is a quiet humming sound that gets stronger and louder when you, the chances are that you have busted a wheel bearing on one of your wheels. Though broken wheel bearings may not a serious problem, you should take care of it as soon as you discover it. When a broken bearing starts to crack, it can block the wheel and you could spin off the road. This poses extreme danger to you and your passengers, as well as the other cars on the road. It is difficult to diagnose whether or not your wheel has suffered a broken wheel bearing but it is advisable to bring your car for a check. In order to diagnose the exact wheel that has issue, you could sit at the back seat of the car and listen for the source of the sound. If the sound is louder on the left, it is most likely the left rear wheel that has an issue.
3. The smell
You should be alarmed if there are weird smells in the car besides your air freshener. Smells are the least obvious indicators of the issues present with your car. If you smell something funny, you should find out the source immediately. For a more detailed guide on smells, you can take a quick read at the article «6 vehicle warning smells you should know about».
4. The bumping sound
If everything is in order with your suspension you should not hear anything when you go over the bumps on the road. But, if you hear a bumping or even clanking sound when you go over potholes, you have a problem with ball joints, stabilizers or other suspension components. The sound should be heard only on rough roads, but not on smooth surface.
5. The steering wheel noise
Almost all modern cars have power steering which is connected to the power steering pump that makes turning a lot easier. However, if your steering wheel makes strange sounds when you turn it fully to the left or right, this indicates a problem with the pump. You’ll still have power steering, but the chances are that it is going to fail soon. If you experience a heavy steering wheel and it is unusually hard to turn, your steering pump is gone.